• The Associated Press


South Africa’s Wesley Moodie recovered from an unsteady start Sunday to claim the AIG Japan Open men’s singles title with a 1-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 win over No. 5 seed Mario Ancic of Croatia.

News photoSatoshi Iwabuchi (left) and Takao Suzuki celebrate after winning the men’s doubles title at the AIG Japan Open.

Unseeded Moodie struggled in the opening set against the hard-serving Ancic at Ariake Colloseum but bounced back in the second set on his way to his first ATP title.

“It feels great,” said Moodie. “After the first set, I didn’t think I deserved to win. I thought Mario had the match in the bag, so it’s hard to believe.”

Moodie won a hard-fought tiebreaker in the second set and then broke serve in the third set to take a 5-4 lead before closing out the match in 2 hours, 17 minutes.

In the women’s final, No. 2 seed Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic defeated No. 3 seed Tatiana Golovin 7-6 (7-4), 3-2 after the Frenchwoman was forced to retire midway through the second set because of soreness in her left Achilles tendon.

It was the hard-serving Vaidisova’s second straight title after the 16-year-old won last week’s Korea Open in Seoul.

Golovin took an injury time-out with Vaidisova leading 3-1 in the second set and held serve to win the fifth game, but couldn’t continue after that.

“I thought she was moving really well and I didn’t notice any problem,” said Vaidisova. “It’s unfortunate because we really wanted to play the final till the end.”

Moodie, ranked 98th in the world, relied on solid groundstrokes and a strong serve to defeat Ancic. The South African had 11 aces Sunday.

Ancic was contesting his third final of 2005 and the fourth of his career. He won his first career title at June’s Ordina Open in the Netherlands.

Top seed Mariano Puerta of Argentina crashed out in the third round and several top players, including Russia’s Marat Safin and Britain’s Tim Henman, pulled out before the start of the tournament.

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